Chinese Colonel at Hong Kong Army Garrison Got Rank Through Bribery: Insider

December 1, 2019 Updated: December 4, 2019

A senior officer in the Chinese military garrison stationed in Hong Kong who’s been derided as the “Rolex colonel” used bribes to obtain his rank, an insider told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times. 

Col. Wang Yanshun, head of logistics in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong garrison, spent a large sum to be promoted to second-in-command to current garrison commander Maj. Gen. Chen Daoxiang, the insider said.

The insider claimed personal familiarity with Wang. The Epoch Times Hong Kong bureau was able to confirm details of their relationship from other sources, as well as the insider’s identity, which remains confidential. 

‘Rolex Colonel’

According to the insider, Wang, a native of China’s Shandong Province, joined the PLA in 1987. He served with the Beijing Military Region’s Air Force Logistic Department Auto Battalion after graduating from PLA Air Force Logistical University in 1991. 

On Aug. 9, Wang and Chen Yading, the garrison’s deputy political commissar, led about 400 soldiers from the unit to donate blood at the Red Cross Society of Hong Kong, as reported by HK01, a generally pro-Beijing outlet. It was the first time that Wang made a public appearance in Hong Kong. 

On Nov. 16, Wang led about 50 PLA soldiers, members of an elite special forces team, in cleaning up bricks and barricades on a road near Hong Kong Baptist University in Kowloon. 

While the soldiers were dressed in olive green t-shirts and orange basketball jerseys, Wang was attired in a sky-blue T-shirt and wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date Blue watch with a white gold chain. According to Apple Daily, the watch is valued at 259,000 HKD ($33,085); the price given on Rolex’s U.S. website is $36,850.

That Wang could afford such an expensive accessory drew the attention of many Chinese netizens, who mocked him as “the Rolex colonel,” given the modest salaries of PLA officers, even at higher ranks. According to Chinese media, a logistics colonel can expect to earn a monthly salary of 10,000 yuan (about $1,400). 

Pay for Promotion

The insider said Wang had secured his position through bribery, and that it wasn’t the first time he had used money to gain a promotion. For example, the insider said that in 1999, Wang paid a bribe to be promoted to the command of a battalion from deputy commander.  

“The leaders of Air Force Logistic Department planned to promote … a fellow deputy battalion commander to take the position,” the insider explained. “Wang bribed the department commander with 80,000 yuan ($11,380) and took the position. At that time, his salary was less than 2,000 yuan ($284) per month, and 80,000 yuan was a lot of money.”

Talking about Wang’s recent actions in Hong Kong, the insider said that Wang wanted to be promoted to deputy commander of the garrison and boost his credentials.

“Of course, he [Wang] would spend a large amount of money to bribe his way into this position,” the insider said.

Giving bribes for promotion has become a common practice in the PLA in past decades, reflecting the high level of corruption in state institutions and the Chinese Communist Party. 

In 2014, when the now-deceased senior Chinese general Xu Caihou was under investigation, anti-corruption personnel sent to confiscate allegedly ill-gotten riches from his 2,000-acre residence reportedly discovered a basement filled with riches and boxes of cash. Each was marked with the names of the officers who had given Xu the money as bribes. 

On March 5, 2015, Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper reported that Lin Xiaochang, founder and chairman of Philippines-based Hengchang International Co. Ltd., told the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference about rank-buying among officers: 

“My nephew works for the PLA. He told me that you need to give the leader 200,000 yuan ($28,440) for the position of a company commander, 300,000 yuan ($42,660) for battalion commander, and 1 million yuan ($142,190) for regiment commander,” Lin said. 

Li Lingpu from the Hong Kong bureau of The Epoch Times contributed to this report.